Jonathan Edwards

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How does Edwards serve as a model to his audience in his "Personal Narrative"?

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In his "Personal Narrative," Edwards serves as a model for his audience by telling stories that are relatable to them about his struggles with his faith journey. For example, he records having a burst of religious enthusiasm as a youth after a revival that led him to find secret places to pray but then ending up falling away from prayer and back into sin. Likewise, he recalls getting very sick with pleurisy and being shaken by the fear of death to renew his faith, but only for a short time.

Like many, too, Edwards struggled with predestination, the idea that God could decide absolutely who would be saved and cast away with no human effort counting, or, as he put it,

the doctrine of God's sovereignty, in choosing whom he would to eternal life, and rejecting whom he pleased; leaving them eternally to perish, and be everlastingly tormented in hell. It used to appear like a horrible doctrine to me.

However, he talks about how he came to terms with this theology and even provides the Bible verse, 1 Timothy 1:17, that helped him to model how he reconciled himself to a difficult doctrine.

Edwards, too, shows how discussing theology with his father and taking contemplative walks in nature helped increase his faith. Others might not have a clergyman for a parent, but all could follow Edwards's lead of communing with the natural world. He talks about how even thunder, which he once feared, came to seem to him part of the divine voice.

By talking about how he was enriched as he grew up by a deeper faith walk, he makes that path seem desirable. He dwells on his fervent desire for holiness and how that longing filled his thoughts. He relates that he wrote down the date when finally gave his life up wholly to Christ.

Edwards uses the words sweet and sweetness often in talking about how his growing faith turned what were once merely religious duties into tasks he actively wanted to do.

The detail Edwards uses and his willingness to talk openly about his struggles, common to many people, makes for a narrative many can relate to and admire.

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